Facebook’s New “Memorialize” Option

Posted on October 30, 2009 by



By Laura Adrien

What happens to our Facebook pages after we die? We’ve all considered some form of the question, but in the age of computers what happens to the pages of information we post on the web, to the profiles and accounts we’ve created?

Social networking giant Facebook has recently addressed this issue by creating an option to “memorialize” the Facebook page of the deceased. The site didn’t feel that simply deleting the profile was always appropriate because the person had not vanished from memory. The profile is often a tool used by family and friends to grieve and remember, and therefore still very much a part of the social context. Facebook’s solution was to create a brand new option specifically for that purpose.

For a profile to be memorialized, a form must be filled out and reviewed by Facebook staff. The form asks for specific information such as the deceased’s name, date of birth, e-mail address registered to the account, and a link to a valid obituary to weed out the real cases from pranksters trying to permanently memorialize their still-living friends’ pages. Once a profile is approved and memorialized, the account is locked to prevent hackers from accessing the profile and it is hidden from search. Contact information is removed, the profile stops showing up on activity and ‘reconnection’ feeds, and only the friends of the user are permitted to access the page.

Although a very recent feature, Facebook had been at work on the idea since the site’s inception. It is an idea that revolutionizes the concept of what a social networking site does. It not only provides a means for old and distant friends to reconnect or for the rapid sharing of pictures from the latest party, but provides a context for a community of shared memories and experiences after the death of a loved one.